23 July 2013
Shaun Westgate, Managing Director

Web design - the five key stages for success

Reputation Inc

Our website design for ReputationInc

 

Web design – the five key stages for success
When you are using sophisticated digital marketing to drive traffic to your website, you need to ensure your website engages your key audiences and encourages them to explore your core offerings. Developing an effective website requires an intelligent, creative design approach that will give your website real 'stand out'. Although Westgate designs and develops web design solutions across a wide range of industry sectors, producing a wide variety of different creative solutions according to the needs of each of our clients, our fundamental approach is always the same.

Outlined below are the five key stages in our web design process, which enable us to create truly effective online propositions, that really do add value to our clients' bottom line.

1. Structure
This stage consists of mapping out the pages that are going to make up the website, refining and consolidating existing content and developing a site map. We then create concise, ‘one-click’ user journeys from the home page, which allows access to all the website's key information by each distinct user group, via a clear, informative and functional experience.

2. Wire-frames
Before we develop any HTML code, we will produce a wire-frame version of the site. This is simply a document that follows on from the site-map produced in stage one and details what content and imagery will appear on each page.

Our wire-frames detail process charts and funnels and key user experiences such as application processes, buying a product or updating a user account. We always ensure that all information and signposting is clear and concise. We also consider the responsive nature of the site at this stage, to show only relevant content on mobile devices and cut out any superfluous information that is detrimental to mobile optimisation and load times.

3. Design
During this stage, we will develop the design concepts including creative routes for all the required pages, based on the approved wire-frames. Our designers and HTML developers work together to ensure key factors, such as accessibility and mobile versions are considered to ensure the end product remains faithful to the original vision. Design concepts are produced as Photoshop visuals for approval before being passed over for HTML build.

Our design concepts are confident, contemporary and professional, with clear and intuitive navigation. We also factor-in the responsive nature of a website, in order to accommodate a variety of different web browsers and devices.

We develop strong navigation tabs across all core pages with a clear "breadcrumb" trail that is clearly visible to all users. Along with our clear sign posting for product and services information for all the relevant user groups, we always ensure there is scalability to allow for the addition of future groups/information.

4. Development
Once the above three stages are complete, we will create all of the required HTML templates and associated elements before integrating it into our Content Management System (CMS). Once completed, all content will be added and the site will be thoroughly tested on various different computers, browsers and devices. After this, we will supply a development URL to review the site and the CMS. We will also supply a CMS manual. The CMS is very straightforward to use, however we do offer clients training, if required.

5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
This is an optional stage and can really benefit a site at launch stage, if time and budget allow. Usually, we will recruit a small pilot group to carry out specific tasks on the site – feedback from these tests is then consolidated and refinements to the site are made. This is labelled as stage five, however, it is good practice to run this exercise during stage four as well, so that any refinements can be incorporated into the development stage.

Going live
Once stage five is complete and is ready to go live, we will transfer it to the live server. Throughout the development process, we devise detailed Q&A check lists to ensure all the necessary tests are carried out on the site as it moves into production. Once in the production environment, any back-up plans that have been chosen are put into place and tested, and any scheduled tasks are also set-up and tested.

I hope this outline gives you a good insight into planning and designing a website. If you have any other thoughts or tips I would love to hear from you. Below are links to some of our latest and greatest(!) web designs, please do take a look.

LCA Business School
C.P.J Field & Co
Chewing Gum Action Group
ReputationInc
Noise Abatement Society
Unigro



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